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Old 01-01-2012, 01:44 PM   #1
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solar panels

What are some practical solar panel for use on a trawler to keep batteries charged while away from shore power?
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Old 01-01-2012, 03:35 PM   #2
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RE: solar panels

Can't answer your question, but certainly looking forward to learning about solar on our trawler too. Debating solar versus wind as an aux source of charging. I am leaning towards solar because it has few moving parts to fail. :-)
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Old 01-01-2012, 06:14 PM   #3
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RE: solar panels

"Practical" and "solar" don't belong in the same sentence. Solar is very much a lifestyle choice. We have 200 watts of solar power on our bus which is just a token. On our boat I can see how 800 watts might be possible if we entirely replaced the bimini with panels. Even at 800 watts we would need to severely alter our lifestyle in order to no longer need to run the generator. I think a lot of people have really unrealistic expectations from a solar installation. You can reduce your generator run time with solar without altering your lifestyle but if you want to get all your power from solar then the first thing to do is seriously cut back your usage. 800 watts sounds like a lot of power but that's under perfect conditions. In reality you probably only get some fraction of that output and that only for 4-6 hours out of the day.
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Old 01-01-2012, 06:50 PM   #4
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solar panels

Solar panels will keep your batteries happy and even run appliances, like a fridge, when on a swing mooring or away from a marina. They need to be appropriately sized,located to catch the sun,not overshadowed, with good multi stage controllers, adjustable for battery type, so they won`t cook the batteries and will record amps generated. Controllers have direct connections for an appliance, giving supply when the batteries are full and not when the batteries get low.Controllers have a one way diode to prevent reverse draining of batteries at night.

For safety we put a fuse in the + line just before the panel lead goes onto the battery. We have 90watts (giving 7amps per hour in theory but not in practice) of panel to each of our (2) 200 amp hour batteries, and a 25 w panel (5-10 watts would have done) for the genset 150amp battery.

Some boats use a relay to cut panel charge when the engine alternator is generating, I didn`t, it doesn`t seem to be a problem.

Have an air gap under the panels to dissipate heat build up, don`t mount them flat on the deck.Remember if they are in the sun they are generating,you can put them to sleep by covering the panel over if you need to work on the wiring.

Success is sun dependant. Australia gets plenty; in SF recently I suggested panels to a friend, he felt there wasn`t enough sun, I think there is. Charged batteries last longer and perform better. Panels,mostly from China,are getting cheaper; our only manufacturer closed (like Solyndra). Select panels and regulators carefully, research and plan fitting,using the internet. Wet type batteries need regular top up,especially if your regulator has an equilization phase.

*


-- Edited by BruceK on Thursday 5th of January 2012 06:39:36 PM
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Old 01-01-2012, 08:19 PM   #5
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RE: solar panels

Thanks for the information. *Where on your boat did you mount the panel? *What make and model did you install and how do you match your battery bank to the panel size?
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Old 01-01-2012, 09:27 PM   #6
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RE: solar panels

Quote:
Scabbydan wrote:* Where on your boat did you mount the panel? *What make and model did you install, how do you match your battery bank to the panel size?
*There is a good article by Don Casey, "www.boatus.com/boattech/casey/30". I put 3 30watt panels on each side of the extended flybridge,outside the railing, wired together, to fit the space, using aluminum angle screwed to the panel sides and to teak strips which I sikaflexed to the deck to avoid screws and take up any unevenness so not to flex the panels.They can get shaded so it`s not optimal,better is up high on a special frame,or even on the bimini(but that means cutting the canvas). I put as much panel as I could easily fit, viewing them as a supplement and battery maintainer, but NYE while anchored waiting for the fireworks they ran 2 electric fridges until the sun dropped. A friend has 240 watts of panels, well mounted, running a fridge 24/7 at 3 degrees C. How much you fit depends what you want of them, I don`t think you can easily replace a genset, but with big panels and batteries and an inverter you might start it less often but you won`t run a eutectic fridge/freezer compressor,or the espresso machine.

I bought my panels on Ebay, much cheaper than panels also from China at the boat shops, also regulators identical but much cheaper. Don`t just buy the cheapest, quality varies,my single 25w panel for the genset battery is not the high quality I used for the main batteries but does the job for just $99,if it extends the life of the battery 50% it pays for itself.Regulators "free" with panels can be very basic. Check out retailers, hobby/electrical and marine shops,expect products from China as the main manufacturer.On ebay I think it`s safer to buy from a local importer rather than China direct,though I successfully bought LEDs from HK.

Panels are popular here.Good luck,take your time,get it right, BruceK
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Old 01-02-2012, 06:08 AM   #7
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RE: solar panels

Our coach and boat both are similar.

They sit sometimes for 6 months idle with out a land power line.

One 85W solar and a proper charge controller (Trace C-12) keep the batts up to full , even with occasional loads (boat bilge pump) .

For this solar is fine, for refrigeration or propulsion they become very expensive and problem some.

Folks HAVE done refrigeration , but only with top notch fridge (big bucks) , a ton of batts and an acre of panels.(4 -6 or more)

Just as with using a diesel or solar to charge a batt set and attempting propulsion , its best done with some dufus/gov. grant money as nothing has been successful yet.

The most promising seems to be tugboats that can use smaller engines to change location and wait on station , then add battery power for the few min of big bollard pull.
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Old 01-05-2012, 06:06 AM   #8
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solar panels

I have written two post on both the use of solar and wind aboard my trawler.* I have had very good success with both of these; they will keep banks at 100% capacity all day long.

If you need additional information, there are two articles on my website Cruising Center that discuss the technical aspects on installation.

http://trawlerforum.activeboard.com/t43610514/wind-turbine/
<a>
</a>http://trawlerforum.activeboard.com/t40951707/solar-panel/



-- Edited by marinetrader on Thursday 5th of January 2012 07:07:49 AM



-- Edited by marinetrader on Thursday 5th of January 2012 07:09:03 AM



-- Edited by marinetrader on Thursday 5th of January 2012 07:12:04 AM


-- Edited by marinetrader on Thursday 5th of January 2012 07:13:08 AM
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Old 01-05-2012, 06:47 AM   #9
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RE: solar panels

These people have a wide range of solar and wind alternative energy "stuff" along with lots of other things tha might be useful on a boat.

http://www.northerntool.com/catalog/

Steve W.
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:57 AM   #10
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RE: solar panels

I only have about 50w in Uni-solar (flexible) panels up on the port aft end of the flybridge, but complemented by an Airbreeze wind turbine, and we could stay out endlessly on the pick with 12v frig running the whole time and the batts would never go flat. See my post at top of the top of this board re GPS settings and Batt charging...
Admittedly we do not run electrical cooking appliances, as we have propane with 4 burner stove and I have duplicated most of the lights with LEDs, but as I said in that post, because it was quite breezy at night last week, we were burning more lights than we needed to give the wind genny a fair turn. So in my view if you want to avoid motor powered generation, you need wind and solar. We found solar alone not enough once we went 12v frig instead of eutectic. To go solar alone you would need much more output and many more batteries. I should add we only have/need 2 x 100 amp AGM house batts. Also have a smaller 10w panel trickling the dedicated 100 amp starter batt. All panels go through SunGuard solar controllers.
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:10 PM   #11
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RE: solar panels

After about a year of research I have purchased 3x130w panels to attach to the bimini and a Morningstar Pro star 30M 30 amp Regulator to control it all. I am going to start the project on the 12th Jan. I have a 12v/240v Norcold fridge, have converted to LED lights and have a Heart inverter charger. My aim is to do away with a troublesome diesel genset, and with 440ah of house battery I hope the solar will enable us to only charge with engines when we choose to ie when we move anchorages. This forum has been exceptionally helpful over the year and I have had the privilege of gaining knowlege from so many. The only issue I am having at the moment is the fittings required for the bimini. I am aware that I need to drill through the bimini and the guy who made the bimini is going to reinforce any holes I make. My choice at the moment is to use aluminium angle set on fillets that will minimize chafe and then set the SP inside the angle.
Any suggestions would be helpful.
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:24 AM   #12
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RE: solar panels

I have a 12v/240v Norcold fridge

390W total should be able to keep up.

Remember SP's work better when there can be cooling under them, and even a single shadow on a single SP will lower the combined output dramatically.
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Old 01-07-2012, 02:45 PM   #13
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RE: solar panels

The bimini is canvas so with a fillet of aluminium square section under each fixing point there will be a gap under the SPs. As this is the highest point on the boat I dont believe there will be any shadows cast. I have 2 x10w SP trickle charging both starts and house at the moment and they dont have any shadow on them so heres hoping.
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:54 PM   #14
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RE: solar panels

For us, two 80W monocrystalline panels run two fridges and a freezer (all Danfoss compressors) and top-up the batteries on a sunny day. When it's overcast we can keep one fridge and the freezer going.

We have just completed our summer cruise (two weeks) and the weather was the wettest for 7 years. Very heavy overcast and pouring rain meant that for days at a time we didn't get to run the main engine. The solar panels could not keep up in these conditions and we had to run the genset most days. The fishing wasn't great either!
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Old 09-25-2012, 06:23 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bendit View Post
For us, two 80W monocrystalline panels run two fridges and a freezer (all Danfoss compressors) and top-up the batteries on a sunny day. When it's overcast we can keep one fridge and the freezer going.

We have just completed our summer cruise (two weeks) and the weather was the wettest for 7 years. Very heavy overcast and pouring rain meant that for days at a time we didn't get to run the main engine. The solar panels could not keep up in these conditions and we had to run the genset most days. The fishing wasn't great either!
That's why you need the missing piece of the puzzle Ben - a wind genny to complete the self-sufficiency thing. I bet there was some wind most days and nights if the weather was like that.
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Old 09-25-2012, 06:25 AM   #16
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For most folks "living" off solar requires loads of bucks and a lifestyle change.

To me the best use of solar is topping the batts , as that last 10-15% tales far too long to do with a noisemaker .

All day is great!! and a batt set topped up to 100% SOC often will not slowly loose capacity over time as the 50/85 noisemaker charge will do.

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Old 09-25-2012, 09:00 AM   #17
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We have an 85 Watt panel that 'almost' powers the fridge. We can stay out all day and only use 3-4% of capacity. Over night we drop down to 82% of capacity. It's a great supplement that keeps our Nova Kool 12V side by side refrigerator from sucking us dry.

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